Ask Foghorn: Buying CMP Firearms?

Brian asks:

What do you think of the CMP and their M1 buy program?

My question is why you spent the time writing me an email instead of sending in your cash! Let me explain…

The Civilian marksmanship Program is a non-profit organization setup by the U.S. government to sell firearms to the American public for the purpose of promoting marksmanship. It was chartered in 1903 under the presidency of one bad-ass named Teddy Roosevelt and administers many programs including the CMP’s rifle matches, the crown jewel of which is the National Matches at Camp Perry which are held every year.

But what the CMP is best known for among shooters is their firearm sales. In order to further American marksmanship the CMP sells off old U.S. Military issue rifles, primarily old stores of World War II vintage M1 Garand rifles, with some Springfield 1903s and M1 Carbines thrown in for good measure. These were service rifles at one point, but the advent of better firearms has made them obsolete and Uncle Sam is happy to make a buck off selling them.

And while they are selling these guns for cold hard cash, they’re nowhere near street price. An M1 Garand in good condition can easily run you north of $1,000 at a gun shop, but from the CMP’s website they don’t reach much over $600.

What makes the CMP special is that they have the ability to sell directly to civilians without FFLs and ship them guns straight to their door. They are exempt from the purview of the ATF’s licensing system, and any American citizen who meets the requirements can buy a gun directly from their website.

The requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be legally able to purchase a firearm
  • Be a member of a CMP affiliated club (list here)
  • Be involved in a marksmanship or firearms related activity

They define that last one in a little more detail on their website. According to them the following are eligible firearms activities:

  • Current or past military service.
  • Current or past law enforcement service
  • Participation in a rifle, pistol, air gun or shotgun competition (provide copy of results bulletin).
  • Completion of a marksmanship clinic that included live fire training (provide a copy of the certificate of completion or a statement from the instructor).
  • Distinguished, Instructor, or Coach status. – Concealed Carry License.
  • Firearms Owner Identification Cards that included live fire training. – FFL or C&R license.
  • Completion of a Hunter Safety Course that included live fire training.
  • Certification from range or club official or law enforcement officer witnessing shooting activity.

It’s still a damned low bar to set to get guns shipped to your door.

Now I know what you’re thinking. for something this awesome (and I do believe getting an M1 Garand shipped to your door qualifies) there has to be a catch, right? Well there is.

They’re running out. There are a finite number of M1 Garands in the armories of the United States, and at some point they will be all gone. The CMP has already started selling new production .22lr rifles to keep something in stock once the supplies run dry, but there will be a point in the near future when a $600 Garand is a pipe dream.

The other issue is that the line to get one is massive. People have waited months after sending in their order form to get their gun — not as long as the ATF’s NFA branch line, but still pretty long. If instant gratification is your thing this might not be for you.

The other issue is that you don’t get to choose your rifle. They pick the next one off the rack (of the appropriate “grade” based on wear and other things) and ship it to you.

You can get around most of these issues by visiting their stores in person, where you can walk away with a brand new gun that same day (provided you meet the criteria and have the cash). But there are only two stores, and I’ve never been close enough to one to go.

The CMP is an American institution. And if you ever wanted an M1 Garand or an M1 Carbine, now is the time to buy. All it takes is some paperwork and patience, and the CMP will happily ship you your very own copy of the greatest battle implement ever devised.

For more information visit their website.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

27 Responses to Ask Foghorn: Buying CMP Firearms?

  1. avatarcmd says:

    I got one last year and it took about 2 1/2 months. CMP kept me updated via e-mail through the entire process. The rifle came in a solid hard case with the CMP logo on it. The rifle was in great shape with new wood. It shoots AWESOME!!!! Fulton Armory is a great source for parts and accessories.

  2. avatarBLAMMO says:

    Can’t you people keep a secret? Now, they’ll run out of M1s even faster. And you just put enough fear and panic in me to want to order another one.

    SHEESH!!

    • avatarBLAMMO says:

      And if you ever wanted an M1 Garand or an M1 Carbine, now is the time to buy.

      The carbines are all gone; no more web orders. You have to visit one of their stores (Ohio and Alabama).

      Let’s just hope Romney is elected and he allows the import of the 700,000+ from South Korea.

      • avatarInternational Jeff says:

        +1. Romney will likely be the most firearm friendly president the US has ever seen. After all, he only supports common sense gun regulations. Like bans on pistols that don’t have magazine safeties, limits on standard capacity magazines, bans on shoulder things that go up, etc.

  3. avatarjkp says:

    Re: Completing a markmanship clinic, does that have to be a CMP clinic, or could it be any kind of firearms training?

  4. avatarIdahoPete says:

    Got a Garand from them in 1982, and it is a beaut – arsenal reconditioned in the 1950s, according to my M-1 collector/expert friend. Shoots 2″ groups at 100 yards with issue iron sights and National Match ammo, even with my crummy “trifocals-required” eyes. Amazingly pleasant to shoot for a .30-06, no doubt due to the 9.8lbs, the massive oval buttplate, and the gas operation. You can shoot a 60-round CMP match in the summer with a thin shirt, and your shoulder does not ache at the end of the day.

    And just to provoke various expressions of insane jealousy and hate mail, it cost me all of $125 from the CMP back in 1982. How’s that for inflation in 30 years?

    • I can do you one better – that M1 Carbine you see was a CMP purchase.

      From 1955.

      For $50.

      • avatarIdahoPete says:

        OK, insane jealousy here. New-made Auto-Ordnance carbines are now selling for around $750, aren’t they?

      • avatarthe last Marine out says:

        I got the M1 carbine at $20.00 and the 1911 pistol for $18.00 in 1960, but you had to be NRA member than, later as Viet Vet. I got the M1 for $149 in 1992, now i have another M1 carbine, M1 rifle, the 1903 and the 1903a1 rifle ,,, No more m1 carbines for sale, but they now have the M1 rifle for sale in 308 win/7.62×51 NATO…..and yes they have a ton of M1 rifles and M1 carbines in Korea ,,,, they most likely will be destroyed thanks to Mrs. Clinton………

  5. avatarMarkinVA says:

    I attended an Appleseed shoot (appleseedinfo.org) and joined their RWVA for a nominal fee. This provided all the paperwork I needed to purchase from CMP (membership card and a letter indicating I participated in live fire on paper targets with safety training).

    Reminder – regular 30-06 ammo can overpressure an M1 Garand. Use surplus M2 ball, Garand specific ammo (Federal makes one), or upgrade gas cylinder.

  6. avatarFrank J Dioguardi says:

    Don’t forget we have a Garand clinic coming up late this month. We will supply the M1’s for the match. I believe we have openings for only 40 this year but check the web site for info Check, http://www.honeyisland.org/ website for more Info. Frank Dio

  7. avatarAharon says:

    “The carbines are all gone; no more web orders. You have to visit one of their stores (Ohio and Alabama).”

    I want a carbine.

  8. avatarPlumbum says:

    I read this post, and was preparing to post a comment regarding the prerquisites for aquiring a cmp firearm. However, you shut me down with your informAtive and well-written post. Good job, and thank you.

    Now I know that being a veteran qualifies me, along with nra membership! I’ve gotta get me some ASAP!

    • avatarGlenn Lee says:

      NRA membership doesn’t qualify for CMP eligibility. You have to be a member of a CMP affiliated club.

  9. avatar"Dr."Dave says:

    I gave them my money 6 months ago, and I’m yet to see my M1…

    I just wished I had hopped on the program when they had 1903s.

    • avatar40&2000 says:

      Hae you contacted them? What grade did you order? My last order was placed late march and I received my Garand (service grade) late April.

  10. avatarMilsurp collector says:

    I love how New Jersey went out of its way to make FFL transfers required on all CMP gun purchases. This state sucks, I can’t wait to move.

  11. avatarAnon in CT says:

    “Be a U.S. Citizen”

    Oh well, I guess being a resident permanent alien and veteran of a NATO Army isn’t good enough.

  12. avatarRalph says:

    The Garand Collectors Association has a wealth of information about the M1 Garand, publishes a fine glossy periodical and qualifies as a CMP affiliated club. IIRC, dues are $25 year. The magazine alone is worth that if you’re a Garand fan. It might even be possible to locate a particular Garand (such as a family member’s) by serial number. Yes, it has been done.

  13. avatarJwhite says:

    Ah yes, the shoulder things that goes up. I was almost seriously injured by one of those. I’m glad to hear he’s against such dangerous shoulder things that go up. Only criminals need them and quite frankly I see no other use for such a menacing contraption.

  14. avatarbontai Joe says:

    I got my M1 Garand thru the CMP back when they were known as the Dept. of Civilian Marksmanship, for something near $150. My cousin got his a couple of weeks before me. His had all matching numbers, beautiful walnut wood, no real wear, mint bore, etc. Mine was the same price and I was sure disappointed when I opened mine up. Just about none of my numbers matched, some new parts, some old, had a nasty looking birch stock with battered walnut hand guards stained by the metal preservative used in storage, a real ugly frankenrifle. I was rather pissed until I shot it….. could put all 8 rounds in the clip with open sights in a 2 1/2″ group at 100 yards. So if you guys happen to get an ugly ducking like I did, you might be surprised that it shoots like a swan.

  15. avatarGT TV says:

    Girls Talk TV recently took a gun safety class and our host Gigi
    Smith ended up shooting at the range. She interviewed the President
    of NRA Dave Keene who supports ladies and guns! Check out the
    interview at http://girlstalktv.org and win free gun range time!!

  16. avatarSanchanim says:

    I need to bite the bullet no pun intended and get this done. While the M1 isn’t a modern day hunting rifle it is a bit of history and a damn good rifle even today. Being proficient with it makes you a better shooter period.

  17. avatarfay ruujin says:

    As soon as someone, anyone can prove that there is a ship off the coast of Korea that just happens to want to come to America after 60 years with 10s of thousands of M1s and M1 carbines then I’ll eat my hat. Until, please stop the insane rumors.

    One rumor that is true – I live near the CMP store and go there frequently and it is true that at the current rate of consumption the M1s will run out in about 6 to 7 years. However, my guess, given the nature of fear, paranoia and gullibility (stop listening to Wayne) of way too many gun owners that as soon as they think the supply will run out they will make sure it does lightening fast. Good news, these M1s might be a better investment (all investments are gambles) than buying gold, which you can’t have fun shooting.

  18. avatarJKP says:

    Nick – thanks for this post. I’d never even heard of the CMP until you made this post last year. I just took delivery (right to my door – how cool is that?) of a service grade US Military Rifle, Cal. .30 M1, with a production date around 1943 from the Springfield Armory. Looking forward to taking this beautiful piece of history out to the range as soon as I get some time.

  19. avatarcheapshooter says:

    I wish I could get one of their garlands. I just need to join a club but I live in guyton Georgia and can’t find anyone close on their list. Not to mention their list is a little vague and I don’t have time/money to drive around Georgia/south Carolina looking at gun clubs.

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